Intentional Performers with Brian Levenson
Tom Penn on Creating his Career in Sports

Tom Penn on Creating his Career in Sports

June 5, 2019

Tom Penn joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Tom has had quite an illustrious career in the sports industry. He started out his relationship with sports playing basketball in high school, and then he went on to become a captain of the swim team at the University of Notre Dame. From there, he went on to law school, and after law school he decided to get into the NBA where he became an elite executive for the Portland Trail Blazers. He also served as a high-ranking executive in the basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies where he worked alongside Jerry West. Tom also worked for ESPN for a number of years as an analyst and continues to do TV work currently for Turner. Tom also runs LAFC which is one of the the best MLS soccer teams in the league.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like for him as a kid (5:50), the values his parents passed down to him (7:40), what he was like as a teenager (11:20), why making the Notre Dame swim team had such a big impact on his life (12:50), his relationship with swimming (14:40), how religion played a role in his life (17:50), when law school became of interest for him (19:00), what his mindset was like as a swimmer (21:00), how he approached leadership at Notre Dame (23:00), what it was like to coach while in law school (24:00), what it was like working with his dad (27:30), where the desire to play in different buckets comes from (29:30), why he was interested in working in the NBA and why he keeps his rejection letters (31:00), how he transitioned from law to sports (36:50), if he thought he wanted to be an agent or an executive for an NBA team (42:30), what basketball was like in Vancouver (46:20), his thoughts on integrating business and operations in the NBA (49:50), the organizations that he looks to as models (54:30), his experience with Memphis and then Portland (56:20), what made Jerry West special (59:10), what makes a great leader (1:01:50), Jerry West and his experience with depression (1:03:30), why he went to TV (1:06:20), how he felt when he got let go (1:11:30), going all in on soccer in Los Angeles (1:17:20), the difference between running teams and being on ESPN and Turner (1:20:40), and what has helped him to get the headspace to manage people (1:24:20).

Thank you to Tom for coming on the podcast. If you are ever in or around Los Angeles, we encourage you to check out an LAFC game. Tom is also very involved in St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, TN which is a 100% free hospital that’s mission is to find cures for children usually fighting cancer or other diseases. You can also find Tom on twitter @TomPennLAFC.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Coaching and Scouting

ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Coaching and Scouting

May 29, 2019

Paul Biancardi joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Paul is somebody who has spent his entire life analyzing people, trying to figure out how to bring out the best in people as a coach and now as a scout for ESPN. Paul has spent a lot of his career as a Division 1 basketball coach. He’s served as an assistant coach for Boston College and Ohio State, and then went on to become the head coach at Wright State University. Today, Paul works for ESPN doing all of their basketball recruiting at the high school level. He is in charge of creating the board that shows the top 100 basketball players in the country and he plays a major role in the recruiting that goes on at the college level.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like for him as a kid (5:00), what his parents were like (6:30), the values his mom passed down to him (8:35), what his coach provided for him (10:40), his experience playing Division 3 basketball (12:00), where his persistence came from (16:00), why he didn’t get into trouble (17:30), his relationship with his dad (21:10), what has helped guide him as a parent (24:10), what Tom Thibodeau was like as a coach at Salem State (26:00), his first experience coaching (27:50), what Coach Jarvis saw in him (31:30), his coaching journey (32:40), his experience at Boston College and Ohio State (37:10), what it was like being the head coach at Wright State (40:45), what qualities make a great head coach (43:05), why he transitioned out of coaching into the work he does now (45:15), what he likes about working for ESPN (47:30), what he’s looking for in high school basketball players (54:00), and how he thinks about his process for getting better at his job (59:30)

Thank you to Paul for coming on the podcast. You can find him on twitter @PaulBiancardi and Instagram @paulbiancardi. You can find his work on espn.com and we encourage you to check out his website at https://www.coachbiancardi.com/ to see all the different work he does around basketball and recruiting.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Phil Costa and Rob Curley on Athlete Transition

Phil Costa and Rob Curley on Athlete Transition

May 22, 2019

Phil Costa and Rob Curley join us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Phil and Rob recently wrote a book called The Transition Playbook for ATHLETES: How Elite Athletes WIN After Sports. Phil played professional football and was the starting Center for the Dallas Cowboys. After football, he worked for a medical device company assisting heart surgeons through more than 500 operations. In 2018, he decided to go back to school and got his MBA from Columbia Business School and today he lives in Madrid, Spain where he is enrolled in Spanish Language School. Phil has played football at the highest level and has also done academics at the highest level, and he’s somebody who is very thoughtful and intentional with how he’s going about his life. Rob was the winner of the Charles L. Albert award for the most outstanding athlete at Lafayette College. Phil and Rob played football in high school together where Rob was the QB and Phil was the Guard, and Rob went on to play professional football in Europe. Rob has worked in sales for a leading global pharmaceutical manufacturer and today he lives in Bern, Switzerland, where he attends German Language School. These are two worldly guys who also played football at the highest of levels and they’ve come together to share their knowledge and research on athlete transition. Their passion in life is to help people and give advice on how people can better get themselves ready for massive transitions.

In this episode, they discuss what high school was like for them (6:10), if football was their passion (8:10), what college was like (8:40), what Rob did mentally as a QB (10:20), if they loved football (11:20), the details and how they dealt with pain (16:30), what it felt like for Phil to leave the NFL and Rob to leave Lafayette (17:30), what they did on gameday to make sure they were there mentally (20:10), the idea of being a novice vs. an expert (26:20), the advice he’d give to Gronk transitioning out of the NFL (29:00), how they thought about leveraging themselves as athletes (32:10), what they’d tell a high school kid going to play their sport in college (34:20), how people respond to athletes looking at things outside their sport (36:10), if leagues are trying to help current players explore job opportunities once they’re done (39:00), when they realized they wanted to write a book together (42:20), what Rob’s transition was like after playing sports (46:00), what is currently out there on this topic (47:30), what it was like interviewing people for the book (49:00), the similarities athletes did to be successful with the transition (51:10), what athletes miss the most when they left their sport (52:20), the knowledge that Jordan Steffy shared (54:40), transition outside of sport (56:00), and the process of writing a book together (57:20)

Thank you to Phil and Rob for coming on the podcast. Their book is coming out in late May and 100% of the pre-order proceeds are donated to the AthLife Foundation https://athlifefoundation.org/ which supports student-athletes all across the U.S. You can find their book on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Transition-Playbook-ATHLETES-Athletes-Sports/dp/0578500876 and Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-transition-playbook-for-athletes-phil-costa/1130810803. Finally, we encourage you to check out their website https://thetransitionplaybook.com/ and you can find them on Instagram @thetransitionplaybook.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Henry Abbott on Building Writing Teams

Henry Abbott on Building Writing Teams

May 15, 2019

Henry Abbott joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Henry started a blog in 2005 called True Hoop and that blog ended up gaining a ton of interest. It was so popular that he brought that content to espn.com and he started True Hoop at ESPN. Henry has since left ESPN after a 10-year run and started his own thing called True Hoop which sends newsletter format emails with all kinds of gems and quality content you can’t get anywhere else. If you are an NBA fan you have probably ready some of Henry’s work, heard him on podcasts/TV’s, and he has been at the forefront of the changes that have occurred in the NBA over the last 10-15 years. Henry will share how he became a writer/journalist and entrepreneur, and how he believes teamwork plays a role in developing culture.

In this episode, they discuss what inspired him to get into the blogging world (5:40), what it felt like to get paid for different reasons (10:30), what his childhood was like (13:40), his experience with his parent’s divorce (17:20), if he challenged authority (20:30), why he goes against the standard (24:00), his thoughts on passion and going in the right direction (27:00), what he studied in University (28:50), what he liked and didn’t like about journalism (32:20) , where he saw himself in journalism (35:20), where his entrepreneurial spirit comes from (37:30), why he started a blog about basketball (41:00), what it felt like to interview Jason Williams (50:10), Brian’s experience meeting Obama (53:00), if his Dad is very matter of fact (57:30), how curiosity plays a role in the work that he does (1:00:20), when he realized people would read his blog (1:04:00), what it was like going to ESPN (1:06:30), how he thinks about editing vs. writing (1:08:00), soft skills vs. hard skills (1:12:30), playing at home vs. away (1:17:00), how he built his culture at True Hoop (1:21:30), what he’s up to now (1:29:40), what makes a popular story (1:31:20), and who, over the last 20 years, he would pick to build a team around (1:34:40)

Thank you for Henry for coming on the podcast. We encourage you to check out https://www.truehoop.com/ and you can put your email in for free. On truehoop.com you can also subscribe to get two premium posts per week which are magazine style with a ton of great insights into the NBA which you cannot get anywhere else. You can also find them on twitter @TrueHoop.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Spike Mendelsohn on a Chef’s Mind

Spike Mendelsohn on a Chef’s Mind

May 9, 2019

Spike Mendelsohn is a world-renowned chef and he has worked with some of the top chefs in the world including Thomas Keller, Sirio Maccioni, and Drew Nieporent. After making his television debut on Bravo TV’s Top Chef, Spike went on to appear on several other cooking shows including Life After Top Chef, Iron Chef of America, Late Night Chef Fight, and Beat Bobby Flay. He also hosted Midnight Feast and Food Network’s Kitchen Sink. He has made a presence in the DC area where he opened up Good Stuff Eatery, and his since opened up a number of other restaurants including, We, The Pizza, Bearnaise, and Santa Rosa Taqueria. He has a presence not just because of his food, but he also works with several other brands as a consultant and works with a number of other people on policy. He has a passion for food, equity, and education so he began working with organizations like Care and DC Central Kitchen as a Chef Ambassador and Contributor. His work has landed him as the first chairman of DC’s Food Policy Council. He has used his voice to speak out about improving the quality of school lunches, equal access to whole and healthy foods, and he really wants to make a positive impact on our food system.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like growing up (7:40), the restaurants his family had (10:10), his religious framework (12:10), what allowed his parents to make the move to Spain (14:10), how his siblings affected his upbringing (15:15) , what made his parents good at the restaurant industry (17:30), when he knew what he wanted to do as an adult (20:00), what military school gave him (21:50), his thoughts on the mindset in preparation vs. performance (24:30), how he shifts from perfectionism to adaptability (27:40), his main takeaway from his experience in France (33:30), Brian’s binaries (37:40), his approach to running a kitchen (41:40), what it’s like to be on television (44:40), what his parents would say when he’d make certain declarations (46:00), why he went toward fast casual (51:30), why he doesn’t want to be a celebrity chef (56:20), focusing on character instead of reputation (1:03:00), how he balances everything that he does (1:05:05), and his restaurant at the St. James (1:12:00)

Thank you to Spike for coming on the podcast. We encourage you to check him out at http://www.chefspike.com/ and follow him on Instagram @spikethechef.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Megan Gebbia on Searching for Excellence

Megan Gebbia on Searching for Excellence

May 1, 2019

Megan Gebbia joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Coach Megan Gebbia is Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball team at American University. They have had amazing success since Coach Gebbia has been there, having gone to the NCAA tournament twice. Megan has helped the team to two conference championships, and they have been a very competitive team every year since she’s been there. They have created a culture that is selfless and specific in what they are trying to do and is system oriented.  They are a talented, smart, gritty group that I am lucky to get to work with. This conversation gets into her journey and will give you some insight into how she has come to be, and she will share some watershed moments that have shaped her life, and some people that have really influenced her.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like for her as a kid (5:20), what it was like to win a championship her Junior year of High School (8:05), her parent’s reaction when she got involved in sports (9:15), if she looks for athletes that play multiple sports (10:00), what she got from other sports that assisted her in basketball (11:00), the values her parents passed down to her (15:30), why she thinks some of the better coaches are the negatives ones (17:40), how much of her coaching style is about believing and telling it straight (23:50), what she knows now about coaching that she didn’t know when she was 26 or 36 (25:50), the dynamic of being a Head Coach (31:00), how she thinks about building her system and culture (35:30), how she goes about finding the players she wants (40:00), when she started to get recruited for college basketball (42:40), what her experience was like at Towson (43:30) , what changed after her brother’s car accident (47:30), why things became serious for her (50:30), what drives her as a coach (51:10), when coaching came into the picture for her (51:50), what it was like to coach players she was just in the locker room with (53:00), what she does to make sure she’s showing up at her best (54:00), why she loves practices (55:00), her routines on game day (57:50), how her mindset on defense has changed (59:10), what she wants her legacy to be as a coach (1:01:05), and how she makes sure she’s passionate and excellent (1:05:40)

Thank you to Megan for coming on the podcast. You can find her on twitter at  @CoachMegGebbia and the AU Women’s Basketball team on twitter @AU_WBasketball. You can also follow the team at http://www.aueagles.com/sports/w-baskbl/index.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Eric Carcich on Finding Holistic Coaching

Eric Carcich on Finding Holistic Coaching

April 24, 2019

Eric Carcich joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Eric was previously the Head Women’s Rowing Coach at George Washington University and is now the Head Women’s Rowing Coach at Cornell University. Eric has always been passionate about the mental side of rowing. Eric will talk about his journey, how he first found rowing at UMass, and how he’s worked with elite rowers in men’s and women’s rowing. He is very intentional when he thinks about the culture and vision for the program that he’s running, and he cares deeply about his relationships in general, and about his relationships with the athletes that he serves.

In this episode, they discuss what his childhood was like (7:20), the values his parents passed down to him (11:30), what he loved about soccer (12:40), when rowing came into his life (14:00), what it felt like when his friend asked if he was in (19:10), what about his childhood allowed him to go down his path (20:30), what he liked about rowing as a player (22:40), how he got better at rowing (24:20), what came after graduation (25:50), his first-year coaching (29:10), how he reacted to a yelling style of coaching (32:00), when he found his coaching voice (33:20), when he started coaching females (34:30), what made the coach at Yale a great leader (37:00), his experience at Penn and what makes a city special (40:00), what it was like to be the head coach of GW Women’s Rowing (50:30), his vision when he took over (52:00), what sparked his notion of thinking more holistically (54:50), what he does in his other 22 (55:50), how important it is to coach the whole person (1:02:30), how he thinks about balance and integration (1:06:00), his vision for Cornell (1:07:10), and what he’s doing to make sure he’s showing up on a regular basis (1:10:00)

Thank you to Eric for coming on the podcast. You can reach out to Eric via email at ec862@cornell.edu and you can find Cornell Women’s Rowing at https://cornellbigred.com/index.aspx?path=wrow.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Cody Royle on Coaching Context

Cody Royle on Coaching Context

April 17, 2019

Cody Royle joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Cody is passionate about coaching coaches. Cody is an author, keynote speaker, podcast host, and an Australian Rules Football Coach. He is the head coach for AFL Team Canada which is the men’s national program for Aussie Rules Football. Cody is a big voice in the crossover between leadership principles in sports and business. His first book, “Where Others Won’t,” proposed that businesses should look at how pro sports teams look at team dynamic and talent optimization in order to innovate. In this conversation, we also talk about how the sport’s world now needs to leverage some of business’ best practices when it comes to human development and what that might look like going forward. His podcast, “Where Other’s Won’t,” is a great listen and we highly recommend following Cody on twitter @codyroyle.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like as a little kid (5:05), Aussie Rules Football and Cricket (7:30), what he likes about Aussie rules football (9:40), what his childhood was like (11:30), the values his mom passed down to him (12:35), what he thought his future would look like (14:20), how he felt when he couldn’t play at the level he wanted to (16:20), what an emotional wreck meant for him (17:20), why he got involved in coaching (18:10), the steps he took to become a coach (19:40), how he makes sense of the binary of I can do this better, but I still have a lot to learn (21:05), what he likes about coaching (22:30), his thoughts on the CEO mindset vs. a sports coach (25:05), the importance of flipping mindsets (28:40), what he likes about watching coaches (33:00), how he thinks about coaching coaches (39:10), the biggest challenge to people who want to coach coaches (42:40), the difference in being a team coach vs. a coach of coaches (48:10), how he ended up in Canada and why explore this space outside of just being a coach (53:10), what would happen if we used high-performance techniques from athletes to our coaches/front office (1:00:10), information about his podcast and book (1:03:00), why he thinks people were interested in being on his podcast (1:07:00), how he answers what he does (1:09:40), what makes a great writer and where he learned to write (1:10:40), where the idea of nuance and context came from for him (1:14:05), and what he’ll be doing 10 years from now (1:16:00).

Thank you to Cody for coming on the podcast. His book and podcast are both called, “Where Others Won’t,” and you can find those on Amazon, iTunes, etc. You can find Cody on social media on Instagram and Twitter @codyroyle and https://www.codyroyle.com/ houses everything he does.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Lee Sommers on Strength Building

Lee Sommers on Strength Building

April 10, 2019

Lee Sommers joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Lee is a strength and conditioning coach that does amazing work and truly cares about his clients. He is somebody who is a servant leader, somebody who wants to make his athletes and clients as strong as they possibly can be, and he has worked with the tip of the arrow athletes, most notably Katie Ledecky. Lee started working with Katie when she was 15 years old. Lee has carved out a niche for himself in the Washington, DC area working with elite swimmers. He will share his journey and how he became a strength coach at a really young age and helped build Sport and Health’s Sport and Performance Program that works with elite athletes.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like as a kid (4:20), the values his parents passed down to him (6:50), his transition from New York City to Maryland (11:20), his relationship with his Dad (14:05), his experience trying to play college basketball (17:30), what it was like leaving Temple to go to Towson (19:20), how he got into personal training (21:00), how he thinks about his relationship with money (23:30), his first job out of college and experience managing people (31:00), what he did to try to help his employees sell themselves (38:20), how much of his work is modeling vs. explaining how something should be done (39:50), what he does to make sure he’s a conscience coach (41:05), the habits he does to make sure he’s mentally at his best (42:05), his nutrition and strength and conditioning habits (44:50), his thoughts on grit and grind (50:00), his experience working with Katie Ledecky (52:05), where Katie Ledecky’s confidence comes from (56:50), why he believes Katie hasn’t experienced burnout (1:00:30), and his business now (1:01:10)

Thank you to Lee for coming on the podcast. He has started his own business called Purpose Personal Fitness https://ppf-fitness.com/ and he is also a part of Healthy Baller https://www.healthyballer.com/aboutus. He works with all types of athletes and all types of cliental. He is also currently working with swimming teams including both nation capital swim clubs out of Georgetown Prep and RMSC swim club out of the Rockville area. You can find him on social media at @leesommerspt on Instagram, and you can find him on Facebook at Lee Sommers.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian

Dr. Norman Rosenthal on South Africa, SAD, and Meditation

Dr. Norman Rosenthal on South Africa, SAD, and Meditation

April 3, 2019

Dr. Norman Rosenthal joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Dr. Norman Rosenthal is a world-renowned psychiatrist, researcher, and author who first described seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. He pioneered the use of light therapy as a treatment during his 20 years at the National Institute of Mental Health. He is a highly cited researcher and best-selling author, and he has written over 200 scholarly articles and authored or co-authored 8 popular books. Dr. Rosenthal has worked in the weeds with patients and had a private practice while also going deep into the research. He has written books including “The Winter Blues,” and he also has New York Times bestsellers list called “Transcendence” and “The Gift of Adversity.” He has practiced psychiatry for over three decades, coached, and conducted numerous clinical trials of medications and alternative treatments such as transcendental meditation for psychiatric disorders. He and his work have been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, NPR, and other national media outlets.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like for him as a kid (4:20), what guilt felt like for him (6:05), what it was like to be stabbed (6:40), how he thinks about gratitude (8:30), his experience with Viktor Frankl (13:50), the distinction between gratitude and forgiveness (16:40), his thoughts on grievances (19:10), if he’d do our jails/criminal system any differently (21:30), when he became a researcher and scientist (23:00), how his parents reacted to his career choice (24:30), the values his parents passed down to him (25:20), how he handles privilege while understanding how quickly things can change (28:30), how life is so multi-faceted (33:00), how he first thought of SAD (35:30), how the community first responded to SAD (38:15), why he didn’t stay on the path of research (40:00), what light therapy is (41:20), about transcendental meditation (43:30), how he thinks about spirituality (45:00), his thoughts on death (47:40), his writing process (51:30), his thoughts on the mindset in preparation vs. performance (55:30), what he does to make sure he’s mentally where he needs to be (59:20), what about his framework allows him to be open to other possibilities (1:01:30), how he navigates when to be open and when to be contrarian (1:05:30), the letter his mom wrote he and his siblings (1:09:50).

Thank you to Dr. Norman Rosenthal for coming on the podcast. You can find more information about Norman at his website at https://www.normanrosenthal.com/ which lists his books and blogs he’s written. You can also find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PoetryRx/.

Lastly, if you liked this episode and/or any others, please support us at Patreon or follow me on Twitter: @brianlevenson or Instagram: @Intentional_Performers.

Thanks for listening.

-Brian